Baduk TV English: Perception of Meijin – Episode 8 – Seo Bongsu’s Epic 9 Game Winning Streak

Perception of Meijin is a Baduk TV series where Seo Bongsu 9p analyzes the games of past and present masters, offering insights based on his unique perspective of Go.

Episode 8 is titled ‘Seo Bongsu’s Epic 9 Game Winning Streak’ and looks at game 3 from the 2nd LG Caltex Cup, played on December 12, 1996. Yu Bin plays black and Seo Bongsu plays white.

Seo Bongsu isn’t as well known (outside Korea) as some of his contemporaries are, but he’s an honorary Myeongin (Korean Meijin) because of his past dominance of that title and many players are fans of his practical and creative fighting style.

Seo is joined by veteran Go journalist Park Chimoon 7d throughout the series.

Yu Bin vs Seo Bongsu

Video: Yu Bin vs Seo Bongsu

Watch Yu Bin play Seo Bongsu on Baduk TV

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Game records

Yu Bin vs Seo Bongsu


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Lee Changho vs Choi Myeonghun


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Transcript of the video

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d for

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

Hello everyone, welcome back to 'Perception of Meijin'.

With his unique resilience, Seo Bongsu played an important role in Go history.

We've been reviewing games from the perspective of Meijin Seo Bongsu.

Hello, master Seo!


Episode 8 - Seo Bongsu's Epic 9 Game Winning Streak

You played against Yu Bin 9p in the 5th Jinro Cup.

This game was the first of nine consecutive wins.

I think you were in trouble during the game, weren't you?

Do you remember this game?

No, it's been a long time since then.

In team tournaments, the first game is the most frightening.

Every player wants to do their best for the team.

The first game was tough, but the remaining games were easier.

I kept winning by maintaining my momentum.

So that's how you won nine games in a row?

You met strong players like Chang Hao 9p and Yoda Norimoto 9p in this tournament.

You beat them by half a point.

Some of the games were hopeless.

I was very lucky.

Despite several crises, you succeeded somehow.

Let's see the nine players who were defeated by Seo.

Yu Bin 9p, Hikosaka Naoto 9p, Chang Hao 9p, Yamada Kimio 9p,

Chen Linxin 9p, Wang Licheng 9p, Cao Dayuan 9p,

Yoda Norimoto 9p and Ma Xiaochun 9p.

Yu Bin and Wang Licheng are former LG Cup champions.

Chang Hao is also a well known strong player.

Yoda is very strong against Korean players.

Ma Xiaochun fought against Lee Changho 9p for recognition as the world's strongest player at one time.

Undoubtedly, all of them are top players.

At the time, Chang Hao was a rising star in China, and it was thought that he'd compete with Lee Changho.

You overcame both Yoda and Chang by a half point margin.

I guess these games were the gate to your nine game winning streak.

I almost lost to Hikosaka in the second round.

There were only three areas left to complete.

If he'd played a forcing move first (worth 1 point), I'd have lost by half a point.

Instead, he played a one point move in gote. That I won by half a point was a miracle.

Then you would've been eliminated at the beginning.

As we know, Yu Bin is now the Chinese national coach.

Let's have a look at the game.

Yu Bin plays black, Seo Bongsu plays white.

Of course, white can pincer here. But many players answer like this instead.

Was this fuseki played at that time?

Yes, and this one space pincer was very popular too.

Wasn't this a fuseki which many players avoided as white?

This fuseki was played very often too.

It's hard for white to deal with black's moyo though.

Recently, this fuseki hasn't been played very often.

Black played at 3-3.

If you could play this move again now, would you still jump like that?

I think I'd play around here instead.

Then white can pressure black more.

This move intends to develop the lower side, right?


This pincer looks good too.

In terms of the modern sense of play, this jump is somewhat unusual.

In the bottom left, black invaded at 3-3, but you didn't do so in the top right. Why was that?

I guess I didn't feel like playing at 3-3 during the game.

I don't think it's good for white to invade at 3-3 in this case.

Here's the normal joseki.

After that, black gets sente, and this kosumi is too painful for white.

White doesn't have much potential at the bottom.

On the other hand, the right side looks very big.

It's a failure for white.

Strong players can foresee these sorts of outcomes based on instinct.

Their sense of play has to be well developed.

Yu approached at the top, but this extension is also a great move.

White needs to defend somewhere around here.

Then this kosumi is very nice.

What was his plan? You moved this stone out.

These two moves were sente.

This atari in particular is unpleasant for black.

It doesn't look like this kind of atari has anything to do with territory.

However, in this case, it limited black's potential on the right side.

Is it possible for pros to assess the value of influence accurately?

Or do they do this on the basis of instinct and experience?

I think the latter description is more accurate.

Anyway, this atari was pleasurable for black.


By the way, I haven't seen this diagonal attachment very often.

In fact, it's uncommon.

Was it a practical move?

Yes, it was.

Defending here is normal.

Yes, I've often seen this.

You didn't want black to tenuki here.

I intended to take territory with speedy moves.

However, black's enclosure here was annoying.

White became thin.

I wasn't that happy with my position, so I invaded here.

I reckon this kind of move is "Seo Style".

It looks like an overplay.

However, I can feel the depth of your experience in the wider world.

Anyway, this move was very aggressive.

I was probably pessimistic about the fuseki at this point.

You wanted to complicate the game here.


This move looks right.

Yes, it was the strongest response.

Black connected here.

How about this?

Then white's push here is nasty. Black has to defend again.

If white keeps pushing, black's top group will become vulnerable.

So this empty triangle was the proper move?


This extension wasn't sente anymore.

White jumped out, then black extended here to defend his top group.

At this point, the first serious battle began.

Were there any safer moves for black? This push was powerful.

Bumping here looks safe to me.

How about cutting here?

I think that's an overplay.

White can move his dead stones out.

Black has to atari here, but white will come out like this.

This isn't good for black.

After black captures these stones, white will push through. It's no good.

I think white's do or die move worked out well here.

Yes, it seems that white was successful here, somehow.

Yes, the game became more complicated.

I don't think black wanted to connect like this. How about playing in this area?

In my opinion, that's too submissive.

How about attacking this white group instead?

Which move is better?

It's hard to say in this case.

I think this attachment seems possible.

Perhaps connecting is a realistic move after all.

Did black need to fall back like that? Wasn't black alive?


Therefore, I think black can leave this area and attack white's bottom group.

In fact, this black group wasn't completely alive.

And that was a burden for black.

This hane was the most severe move.

Yu's claim was that white was weaker.

What's the first thing you think about when fighting?

You look for an opportunity to win.

There's something I'd like to ask you about.

I can clearly see your characteristic style in this sort of close fighting.

But, as you've said to me before, you're timid.

But how about when it comes to fighting? Don't you feel that way at all?

If I avoid it, I'll easily lose.

Sometimes I feel that I can't fall back.

I tend to be sensitive about crucial moments in the game.

Sometimes I feel, "even though this situation is frightening, I have to fight."

In some cases, I risk losing a game.

People often ask questions about how many moves professional players can read.

But, in reality, it's hard to read dozens of moves every time.

Because you can't always predict your opponent's moves.

Do you start fighting based on your instincts?

Yes, your sense of play needs to be well developed.

I think pros need to have good instincts.

Yes, they should.

Before that, both sides exchanged several moves.

Now it was white's turn.

How about this move? Isn't it nice?

Yes, it is.

Do you think it's better than the diagonal attachment?

In this case, black will atari here.

Can white rescue his two stones though?

It's possible for black to move his stones out in that case?

That's right.

I think white's in trouble now.

So white needs to sacrifice the two stones instead.

White still has to defend himself.

You're right.

And the position is vulnerable.

This progression doesn't look nice at all for white.

No, it doesn't.

So I persevered like this.

After black extended, you haned.

Where should black play?

I think this hane is good.

White can't resist now. Can he?

No, he can't.

White has to live on the inside. This hane is impossible.

If black hanes, the corner will be captured.

So white has to play somewhere in the corner, to rescue his group.

If white descends here, bumping here is sente again.

After that, can black cut here?

Yes, it's far better than the actual game.

Let's remember this variation and compare it to the actual game.

It seems like Yu was determined to play aggressively that day.

He bumped first, so white haned here instead.

The result was quite different.

In this situation, there was a cutting point here.

After that, black cut here.

White ataried and black moved his stone out.

Black captured white's two stones.

Yu extended, but there was a lot of aji around here.

How about this atari?

I guess that looks possible...

Are you sure?

Is that so? Can't white save his group?

Ah, this cutting point works.

Black has to extend here, but white can capture these five stones.

If black moves out, white attaches and captures black.

If Yu could have captured that stone, he'd have definitely played like this.

But it was impossible, so he extended here.

Around here, Yu's play was shaky.

Because you were stirring up the board.

Did black need to connect here?


Then how should white play now? A one space jump here?

What if black jumps too? White's groups look very weak.

This atari will be very painful for black.

After white attaches here, black has to answer.

It's a complicated battle. I think it's playable for white though.

That's because black let white hane and connect here.


Anyway, I thought this tiger's mouth was powerful.

Normally, it's a good move, but this was a special circumstance.

I'm often impressed by such practical moves.

It seems like shape is totally ignored in this case.

However, black had to defend his three stones.

[Ed: Otherwise white hanes at the same point.]

White's group looks very weak.

What if black connects?

Then white cuts here immediately.

The ladder favors white, so black can't play like this.

Here's the ladder.

What about other moves?

Then white ataris here.

If white captures black's stone, he can easily escape. Black has a cutting point here.

In addition, black only has four liberties, so it's impossible.

Yu played a tiger's mouth, but white resisted powerfully.

Black had no choice but to connect here.

When you captured this stone, were you confident about the game?

Yes, capturing that stone was really pleasant.

Black attached here, to enclose this area.

But there were many weak points in his position.

I think black should've pushed first.

White's block here was so painful for black.

Yu's moves were passive earlier, but he suddenly played an aggressive move here.

I think he was worried about this cutting point.

It was more of a defensive move.

He wanted white to answer here.

White kept playing aggressively.

You tend to play very severely once you find your opponent's weakness.

I can see that more clearly in your games.

When playing against strong players, your moves are very cautious.

I think that's one of the characteristics of your Go.

Is that so?

Do you agree, or not? Please tell me. You were cornering Yu.

When you're behind, you have to fight until the bitter end.

But in this situation, it didn't feel like you were fighting against Yu.

Instead, I feel like you were toying with him.

What do you think?

The last move itself was good.

Yes, I agree. But you could've fallen back, since you'd already been successful in the last battle.

Maybe capturing black's single stone would be a good idea.

Instead, your last move looks rather fierce.

I thought I wasn't far ahead.

This attachment looks severe and brilliant.

When you're in good form, you sometimes play excellent games.

White captured a black stone here.

This battle is also interesting.

Black defended here first.

After white captured, black made this exchange.

After that, Yu moved his stone out.

This area was the final battlefield.

How safe was this white group? Was it alive?


If white minimizes the damage on the left, then is white ahead in terms of territory?

If black manages to capture these five stones, and rescue his three stones, it'll be very nice for black.

But I don't think that will happen.

In addition, this black group wasn't alive yet.

There was an exchange here.

And because of this descent, white's other group was safe, right?

Yes, white can escape or connect to the corner - it's miai.

White was clearly ahead. And the focus was on the battle here.

This question might be hard to answer, but I feel I have to ask you.

In the 2013 LG Cup, all the Korean players were eliminated in the early stages.

Do you think Korean Baduk will succumb to China's power?

Despite the LG Cup result, Korean players still perform well in the Chinese Weiqi Leagues.

Is that so? Yes, they're doing quite well.

That's a good sign. Nevertheless, Korea hasn't won an international Go championship in 2013.

How many international tournaments has China won so far, four times this year?

Yes, that's right.

I think that's an ominous sign.

In an interview, in China, Lee Sedol said it was just a coincidence.

He thinks the Korean Baduk is still ok.

However, Chinese people are concerned about Korea.

They're worried that the outcome might look similar to what we did to China earlier.

Their logic is that if Korea loses too many times, the competitions become uninteresting.

They're worried about a decline in the overall popularity of Go.

In my opinion, we're at a crossroads.

This could be a temporary phenomenon, or we could look back on it as the point at which we were overtaken by China.

When you played this game, the situation was quite different to now.

To be honest, you underestimated Chinese Go, didn't you?

Yes, they were weak.

Is that so?


How come you were able play even better, even though you underestimated the Chinese players?

Sometimes underestimating an opponent leads to bad results. But do you play better when you're confident?

Above all, strength is important.

If you're weak, confidence is of limited value.

If a player reaches pro level, he or she never will never fall back at crucial moments in the game.

Confidence is needed to play well.

But among evenly matched players, it's not everything.

Do you mean that the recent results reflect Korean players' inferiority to Chinese players?

If we only look at international competitions, Korea is clearly behind China this year.

The focus should be on how we can make up for our previous failures.

I sometimes miss old times!

Yu cut here.

It's a capturing race.

You couldn't cut black, could you?

No, black will cut here.

If white extends, black can break through.

So white couldn't cut there.

At this point, other moves were impossible.

Connecting here is normal.

How should white respond then?

White will just play here. This sacrifice strategy was white's plan.

Black can capture white! I didn't know that.

However, white can cut and capture this black stone.

Then, if white attacks like this, black's dragon will die.

White made an iron wall in the center, so black can't escape.

Even if black survives, white's five stones aren't that big in terms of territory.

Therefore, black couldn't connect like that.

Instead, Yu fought back fiercely.

What if white plays here? Can black escape?


So white ataried here, sacrificing his group.

It looks like white's going on an adventure to me.

But you started attacking the black group.

It was all part of your plan, and you delivered the coup de grace.

So could black survive on the inside?


Didn't Yu play several more moves from this point?

Yes, he did.

However, the dragon was dead in the end.

White (Seo Bongsu 9p) wins by resignation

So this was your first game in that tournament, right?

And it was the start of your nine game winning streak.

Is that so?

Well, I've forgotten what order the games were in. I didn't know that!

It was the third round of the Jinro Cup, and the first game for you.

Including this game, you won nine consecutive games in this tournament.

Seo's record in this tournament is a legend in Korean Baduk history.

So we've seen our first game for today.

Let's see look at another game after the break.

Now we're going to review a game between Lee Changho 9p and Choi Myeonghun 9p.

Today's Perception

Round 2 of the 2nd LG Caltex Cup

What do you think of Choi? He's the same age as Lee.

Some people think Choi is unlucky.

I think it all depends on his point of view.

But it's clear that the presence of Lee has been a huge motivation for Choi.

You also have your own rival, Cho Hunhyun 9p.

Have you ever lamented the existence of Cho, when you were runner up?

I'm sure you would have been fine when you won!

Without Cho, I would never have been able to win the Ing Cup or set a nine game record at the Jinro Cup.

I think Choi should listen to this.

Anyway, it's like the famous rivalry between Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Before his death, Zhou Yu lamented the existence of his rival, Zhuge Liang.

Let's look at an interview with Choi Myeonghun.

My Rival Lee Changho

"Amongst my contemporaries, I'm the one who's studied the most since turning pro."

"Despite the wall that is Lee Changho, I never gave up on the competition."

"When I look back on the past, defeating Lee was my goal even after I became a pro."

"Whenever I met him in a tournament, I was very nervous. Obviously, I didn't play well."

"To meet Lee, I had to defeat Cho Hunhyun, Seo Bongsu, and Yu Changhyeok."

"I wasn't pleased to defeat them though. Lee was the only goal for me."

"But then, suddenly, Lee Sedol appeared..."

This is from a special interview with coaches of the 2013 KB League.

Choi is now the coach of Kixx.

Kixx mainly consists of older players.

There are many players who couldn't overcome Lee Changho.

Yes, loads of pros.

Lee Sedol's older brother, Lee Sanghun 8p, said something before he went to do his military service.

He said, "even though I'm about to leave, there's still my little brother Lee Sedol."

I still remember that remark.

Kim Seongryong 9p experienced a similar career.

Even though Lee provided hope and inspiration to many, he frustrated them at the same time.

Many young players despaired about Lee.

Choi is one of those players.

You can't help feeling sorry for him.

This game is from round 2 of the 2nd LG Caltex Cup. Let's have a look.

Lee Changho played black, Choi Myeonghun was white.

Lee spread out with the Mini Chinese Opening.

Recently, black often plays this knight's move.

Isn't it popular now?

Yes, or black can approach like this too.

Back then, black often chose the bottom side.

At one time, several other moves were investigated.

Approaching from the bottom was more popular at the time, but a lot time has passed since then.

Black has two choices now, and Lee haned here.

Black can push or extend now. Lee chose this move.

I'm curious about something. Black's turn here took the vital point.

Does white really need to defend?

If he tenukis, black can invade here.

White has to attach, but this hane works.

After this atari, black connects.

Is this capturing race unfavorable for white?

White has to answer like this.

This placement is the only possible move for white, but black blocks here.

If white plays here, black chokes white's group and captures it.

It isn't good for white.

If white ataris here, this empty triangle works.

Black mustn't play here. Let's see what would happen.

After black captures white's two stones, white can recapture.

Now black dies.

White attacked black with the placement.

Black blocks, and white ataris.

Black can't atari here, but pushing here is possible.

White captures this stone and black connects.

White has to atari, then black captures white's two stones.

Connecting here is inevitable. Then black can capture white.

Black has one more liberty.

That's why white needed to defend here.

But before that, this exchange would have been a well timed move.

But doesn't it strengthen black's area?

If white plays here later, black will extend, then this area will become solid.

But if black answers like that now, white can tenuki (because white will have more liberties in the capturing race).

Whereas, if black blocks here, it leaves some weaknesses in the corner for later.

There are cutting points here.

So I think this is the right time for white to push.

Black attached here. White's position looks a bit over-concentrated.

These exchanges are pleasurable for black.

The fuseki was almost finished. Choi invaded deeply.

Is this kind of deep invasion still played?


This empty triangle was the proper move. Black can't hane like this.

If white cuts, black can't manage all his stones, so Lee played here.

We can see now that this exchange would have helped white.

Now white can aim at this cutting point.

White's position looks fine.

But black's cut here was unexpected.

It was a wonderful move.

Is that so? It's a very hard move for me to understand.

What if white captures this stone?

Black normally pushes here, then white extends.

Then white gets a base. If he plays here, this group lives immediately.

You're right.

If black cuts now, white won't answer here of course.

In the game, white responded here.

If black cuts, white will descend, or kosumi like this.

But is this sacrifice reasonable?

After that, Lee ataried. It's the art of move order.

Can white connect here?

No, he can't.

This atari is too painful.

It's unbearable.

No pro expects to get such a nice opportunity.

White captured here instead. I thought Lee was going to shut white in like this.

That's the normal sense of play.

What do you think? Isn't black good?

Maybe not.

Is that because black will end in gote?

After this exchange, white will attach here and cut.

Black has to extend. However, white's already alive.

And there's a cutting point here.

So this invasion will be a burden for black.

Despite the solid wall, black doesn't seem very good.

I was impressed by Lee's next move.

Practically everyone would think about enclosing, but Lee played here instead.

Does that mean that Lee wanted to attack white more?

It's hard for white to play his next move.

If white tries to live, black will jump instead of playing here.

The weakness we saw in the previous variation no longer exists.

It's a big difference. So white can't play like that.

Instead, this attachment was the only option for white. After that, black haned.

If white extends, black will connect here.

The eye stealing move is sente, so black can attack white's group severely.

But playing here is impossible for white.

However, black will play here otherwise.

After taking white's eye, if black jumps here, white will be in grave danger.

White had answer somehow.

At this point, it's hard to respond.

After looking at those variations, this crosscut seems obvious.

In response, Lee descended here.

How about capturing black's two stones like this?

Then black will extend here.

White has to play here, but then this atari is too painful!

Unlike the previous variation, black has practically no weakness on the outside.

White can't tolerate this. It's a huge difference.

Positional judgment seems to be just as important as reading skills.

But it's a difficult aspect of the game.

It's sometimes very hard to choose between several options.

Lee was planning to sacrifice his stones when he descended here.

Choi knew that, so he resisted.

White wanted black to atari here.

It was an overplay.

Wasn't this white's intention?


How would you evaluate the result?

It's not bad for black.

But, in the game, Lee played the strongest move.

This variation was in Choi's mind. He believed that Lee didn't have an alternative.

However, black's push here was a good counter.

If white extends, black connects here now. Then white can't capture this black group.

Because of that, Choi chose to hane.

But he still had to extend here.

It was the only choice for white.

Since this group dies, it doesn't seem like a good result for white.

That's right.

But Choi should've chosen this variation anyway.

White wanted to seize the chance to cut here.

I guess Choi misread something.

Indeed, the reading here was quite complicated.

White misjudged the situation.

If black jumps out, white can cut and capture black's two stones.

Yes, this isn't good for black.

So Lee maintained the pressure on white's cutting stones.

He didn't give white time to cut or extend here.

After white played this empty triangle, Lee struck at the nose.

Choi exchanged this hane, then cut.

Doesn't white's group die if black plays here?

Yes, but white can play some forcing moves in the process.

After that, attaching here is a good tesuji!

I think this result would still be ok for black.

Even though white can connect, black can capture white's seven stones in sente.

Black is still better off.

However, Lee finished the game here.

Lee can sometimes be very tough. He descended here.

There was a stone here.

White moved out.

It's becoming more complicated.

I advise you to follow this sequence very closely.

We'll show the moves to you slowly.

White cut here.

Let's slow down a bit.

To prevent white's escape, pushing here was inevitable.

When Choi played here, he'd have thought the game was over.

Because of the ladder, black has to look after his four stones.

But there's another ladder here.

Even if black plays here, it doesn't help.

What if black captures this white stone?

Then white captures these four stones in a ladder.

It seemed like black was in serious trouble.

Is there any move which can prevent both ladders?

We'll let you read now.

To be frank with you, there is an answer.

Black can resolve both ladders.

Do you see such situations often?

No, it's almost impossible for this to happen.

Have you ever faced this kind of situation?

No, never in my life.

I've never seen another game record like this.

It was also the first time I saw this move. I finally discovered it through this game.

There are two ladders, and it was Lee's turn.

I don't think Choi ever considered this move.

But Lee saw this long before!

That's how he was able to play such strong moves around here.

When he descended here, he read out this long sequence.

I don't know how many moves he read.

Top players can read this kind of forced sequence in an instant.

Yes, they can.

If there are many variations in the middle, it's harder.

But depending on the circumstances, it can also be hard to see only a few moves.

It was a one way street, so Lee could read it quickly.


Not just Lee. Choi also read up to here.

The difference is that Lee saw this move, whereas Choi didn't.

This double ladder breaker was an old move.

It's called 'Jin-sin-doo', and this move was shown in an ancient Go book.

Jin refers to 'true', sin to 'ghost', and doo to 'head'.

This move was first played in the Tang dynasty, by a strong Chinese player, against a Japanese prince.

This excellent move got its name long ago.

It may be artificially created, but it appeared in a real game!

The game was over here.

The focus of this game is more on this move than the rivalry between Lee and Choi.

Black (Lee Changho 9p) wins by resignation.

Choi regarded Lee as his lifetime rival.

Even though Choi won some tournaments, he never won a title by defeating Lee.

However, he has contributed to the Go community and trained many young players.

That brings us to the end of today's episode.

Thank you!

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